Many of us will be familiar with the ‘post-holiday blues’ and it’s very common after the New Year. With the sharp transition from the festivities of the Christmas period straight back into work, you may find that you’ve lost a little of your motivation, or that you’re feeling more tired than usual, bored or even depressed.
This year, those feelings may be amplified by the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in. With another lockdown in the UK, your time away from work may be looking very different to how it usually does. Without being able to see friends and family and perhaps not being able to enjoy some of your hobbies, a healthy work-life balance is very difficult to maintain.
Here are some tips for remote workers to help beat the post-holiday blues and start the new year off with a bang.
1. Look forwards
Instead of dwelling on all the fun you had over your break and risking feeling resentful that it’s now time to get back to work, it could be helpful to try and visualise the year ahead. This is the perfect time to take stock, reacquaint yourself with the projects you’re working on and remind yourself why you’re passionate about them in the first place.
This is a useful time to do some goal-setting too. If that sounds a bit daunting, start small and work out what you’d like to achieve in the first few weeks or months of the year and start working your way towards these before deciding where you’d like to be in 12 months time. Having a plan towards some tangible goals can really help focus the mind and give you a motivational boost.
2. Establish boundaries between work life and home life
Creating a good work-life balance is important for any worker, especially a remote worker. However, the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it has had on our day-to-day lives has made this even more crucial. The blurring of work-life and home-life has made it challenging to create a healthy balance. After the better part of a year since the first lockdown, now is a good time to reassess what has and hasn’t worked for you if this is your first experience of remote work.
When working from home, we need to develop ways of switching on and off from ‘work-mode’. If you’re going into an office, the commute helps us do this, allowing us a bit of headspace on the journey to and from work to reorganise our thoughts for whatever is coming next. However, if your commute is now moving from the kitchen table to the sofa, or simply shutting your laptop, you don’t get the chance to mentally recalibrate.
If you’re struggling with this, you could try getting outside and doing some exercise at the end of your working day. This will give your brain a much-needed break before throwing yourself back into ‘home-life’.
It’s also important that other members of your household respect your space and time for work and don’t distract you when you need to be focussed. Make sure everyone knows when your work day is and if you don’t have a dedicated office, create a space for working that is as private as possible.
3. Get organised
If you’re feeling a little lost and not sure where to even start as you get back to your desk, consider upgrading your task and time management processes. Take a look at your calendar and your task list for the next month or so and piece together a schedule. This can help you visualise your days and weeks ahead and help you feel more on top of things.
There are plenty of apps available that can help you with this. For example, Trello is a very popular tool for task management and you can organise your tasks on a calendar to help you see what's coming up a little more easily. There are also tools like Harvest and Clockify which are great for time management. It can be really helpful to know exactly how long certain tasks are taking you when organising your work for the weeks ahead.
Communication is one of the most important skills a remote worker can learn. It’s crucial that you and your colleagues are on the same page when you’re not in the same room. Let your manager know if you need any extra support rather than letting a problem build up and get out of control.
While we’re lacking a little social interaction at the moment, booking in some team building calls with colleagues or even some after work chats wouldn’t go amiss. Reconnecting socially with the team could help to beat those blues and drum up a bit of enthusiasm.
It’s been a very difficult year all round and it’s important that we don’t bottle it up. If you’re struggling, it’s okay to talk about it. If you do, you’ll likely find that you’re not alone. It can be better to do this by speaking to someone in person or over the phone rather than by texting or messaging someone.
5. Organise something to look forward to
This doesn’t have to be something big like a holiday, which could easily end up being cancelled with things as they are. This could just be something like a video call with friends at the end of the week or ordering your favourite takeaway and having a cosy movie night. If you do have your heart set on a holiday, start saving now so that when it does come time to start booking trips, you can really treat yourself.
6. Look after yourself
As well as focusing on your mental wellbeing, pay attention to your physical wellbeing. Exercise can do wonders for shifting mood and boosting endorphins. It’s likely that you’ve been sitting around and perhaps watching a bit more TV than usual given the restrictions currently in place. If that’s the case, try and fit in some activities that will raise your heart rate and hopefully your mood too.
Eating well can also help keep you feeling good physically which can have a knock-on impact on your mood. It can be easy to stick to those comforting carb-filled favourites at this time of year but try and mix in some veg-packed meals too. Cooking some meals from scratch, rather than just transferring something from the freezer to the oven can help give you a break from work too. It will get you away from your desk and allow you to focus on something else.
With the short winter days, cold and gloomy weather and the excitement of Christmas behind us, it can be very easy to be swept up in the post-holiday blues in January. When this happens, it’s very important to look after yourself both mentally and physically. Look ahead and get organised for the coming months at work and plan some things to look forward to during your weekends and time off. Reassess your work-life balance and think about what is and isn’t working for you in your remote set-up. Keep communicating with your colleagues and with your friends and family, especially at a time when we are physically distancing ourselves from each other.